When I first told the story of when I was bullied on my blog, I never expected it to get the response it did. I wrote about how I felt and what it made me want to do.
I felt violated and hated and worthless. But even more, I felt helpless and powerless. I think that is what might have pushed me over the edge to decide to kill myself. You see, people knew what was happening to me. I know that people saw it. I know that people laughed at it. I know that people ignored it. I felt as if there was a target on me that was as bright and bold as neon, but my pain and anguish was invisible. I tried asking the teachers and administrators at my school for help. But my pleas went nowhere, fast. I was told that if they didn’t see it, they couldn’t do anything about it.
I was screaming for help, but no one could hear me. Those screams nearly drowned out my heartbeat and my soul.
If I only knew then what I know now, I would know that that was the time to Be Brave.
I should have been brave and stood up to those who were harassing me. I should have screamed at the ones who spat at me and made sure the people around us heard me. I should have made sure those who tormented me knew that it was not acceptable and that it would not be tolerated. I should have looked everyone who stood by and watched in the eye and asked them why they did nothing. I should have refused to accept the school’s stance that the bullying incidents needed to be witnessed in order for them to address them. Instead, I should have insisted they act. I should have stood up for myself, but I was so downtrodden it was all I could do to breath.
Now, I know better. You can bet the first thing I do when I feel threatened is address it. It doesn’t always require a huge, aggressive response. I can respond calmly and quietly and let people know that I will no longer be a victim. I can and will walk away, unfriend people, block tweets and re-blogs, and choose not to take part in the unpleasantness. Don’t get me wrong—I will raise my voice when needed. And I will never let this happen to me again. Ever.
I also refuse to let a school tell me that it can’t help me. To be honest, my old high school tries to take bullying seriously, but not every school does. There has to be a way for every school, everywhere, to understand this is a serious problem that will not go away without their strong intervention. They have to accept responsibility for taking action—real action, not just placating the bullied and letting the bullies get away with it. Once schools become aware of bullying situations, they must be held accountable for poor outcomes due to their lack of intervention. No more sweeping things under the rug.
I made myself a promise: I will never again be a victim. From now on, I am going to be brave for myself and for others too. I will stand up to bullies and let them know that their behavior is not to be tolerated.
Just think: Bullying wouldn’t be much of a problem if we were to stand up to bullies and let the bullied know that we care about and will be there for them. It’s that simple. You just have to #BeBrave.